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Australian Gambling Reform Committee Begins Inquiry

18 May 2011 by admin

Australian Senator Nick Xenophon may be up to some of his old tricks again soon. Xenophon is the Deputy Chair of the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform (JSCOGR for short thankfully). The purpose of JSCOGR is to make inquiries into various facets of online gambling and its impact on Australia in reflection of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001.

While JSCOGR will be able to advise the Australian government on matters relating to gambling, none of their recommendations are binding. And online gambling Australians should be pleased with that considering that Xenophon is the Deputy Chair. Xenophon is known for his vocalizations for tighter restrictions on online gambling and online casinos in Australia to the point that playing in a casino online would be almost restricted entirely.

The JSCOGR’s current inquiry will have to do with the prevalence of online gambling in Australia—how wide spread is it and how are Australians responding to it and impacted by it. In their announcement JSCOGR named their eight points that they will specifically be looking into with this new inquiry, their second to date since their formation in September of 2010:

“A. the recent growth in interactive sports betting and the changes in online wagering due to new technologies;
B. the development of new technologies, including mobile phone, smartphones and interactive television, that increase the risk and incidence of problem gambling;
C. the relative regulatory frameworks of online and non-online gambling;
D. inducements to bet on sports events online;
E. the risk of match-fixing as a result of the types of bets available online, and whether certain types of bets should be prohibited, such as spot-betting in sports which may expose sports to corruption;
F. the impact of betting exchanges, including the ability to bet on losing outcomes;
G. the implications of betting on political events, particularly election outcomes;
H. appropriate regulation, including codes of disclosure, for persons betting on events over which they have some participation or special knowledge, including match-fixing of sporting events.”

I have a feeling that Xenophon had a hand in writing up the points for this inquiry. Look at the language—words such as ‘increase risk and incidence of problem gambling,’ ‘inducements,’ prohibited,’ ‘corruption’ and ‘losing outcomes.’ The points in the JSCOGR are littered with words to imply that online gambling on both things such as sports betting and online poker are negative.

Andrew Wilkie is the chair of JSCOGR and while he states that he is impartial at this point in time on the matter of online gambling, it is Xenophon who gives cause for concern. His ability to speak out is bound to happen in these inquiries. In fact, I am willing to wager that Xenophon has no intention of allowing online gambling to appear in a positive light of any kind; he is likely looking for another way to try to restrict online gambling in Australia.

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